CIF Expands Into Minnesota with a New Vision

Posted on February 1, 2018

Paula Jensen
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After nearly 20 years of serving rural South Dakota with low-interest economic and community development loans, the Dakota Resources Capital Investment Fund is taking its first step toward a national expansion.  

“There is a big need for rural capital in other markets,” explains Beth Davis, President of Dakota Resources. “Very few organizations do what we do as far as providing unrestricted, low interest loans to help rural economic development corporations improve their communities.” 

The first Capital Investment Fund loan outside South Dakota was for $2 million to the Entrepreneur Fund based out of Duluth, Minnesota. The first $1 million was allocated in June and is being used to support small businesses and entrepreneurs across northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. The Entrepreneur Fund and Dakota Resources share a common goal of developing rural communities.  

“Dakota Resources and the Entrepreneur Fund have a shared history of serving entrepreneurs in rural places,” explains Entrepreneur Fund CEO Shawn Wellnitz. “Beth Davis and I connected at a conference and I was telling her that we were having a hard time obtaining capital and had tapped out all our traditional investors. They understood our challenges and ended up being the perfect match for us. We had a very easy, straight forward loan process and the funding is going to make all the difference.” 

Indeed. The Capital Investment Fund loan from Dakota Resources will help finance entrepreneurial projects designed to boost small businesses in northeastern Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin, including an area often referred to as “the Iron Range.” 

“The Iron Range is full of mining communities, and with more and more mines shutting down and laying people off, people are afraid for the future,” explains Shawn. “We are working with those communities to help find new opportunities, support businesses and explore new directions.” 

The rural areas served by the Entrepreneur Fund are ruggedly beautiful and full of proud, hard-working people.  Many small business owners come in the door with unique business opportunities that fit the area’s culture and landscape.  

“I love the diversity of businesses we help support. People are doing amazing things for this area, whether it’s transforming a blighted community into a thriving destination craft district in  

Duluth or the the emergence of small, technology-based businesses on the Iron Range” explains Shawn. “Every successful business creates new opportunities.”   

Some examples of businesses funded by the Entrepreneur Fund in rural Minnesota include:  

  • Providing startup and expansion funding to JakeMutchlerto help grow his dream for Mutch’s Forestry Service in timber-rich Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Today, Jake’s business is booming beyond his wildest dreams.  

  • Issuinga flexible loan to Jason and Lucie Amundsen so that their business, Locally Laid Eggs, could mitigate the hazards of owning a business prone to climate and predator threats, by purchasing a farm. Locally Laid placed second (out of 15,000 small businesses) in the Small Business Big Game contest sponsored by Intuit, maker of Quickbooks. 

  • Offering flexible microloans to help Jay Strangis start and expand American Waterfowler magazine. After new funding, the magazine grew more than 100 percent the first year. Today, American Waterfowler has a paid circulation of over 23,000.  

“If we weren’t here and organizations like Dakota Resources weren’t able to provide capital, many of these start-ups would not happen. We work with a lot of people who are turned down by banks for traditional financing, or people who just can’t meet those strict bank restrictions,” says Shawn.  

“Thanks to the Capital Investment Fund from Dakota Resources, we are opening all kinds of new doors.” 

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